Thorne (TV series)

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Starring David Morrissey
Eddie Marsan
Aidan Gillen
Natascha McElhone
Sandra Oh
O-T Fagbenle
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Executive producer(s) David Morrissey
Running time 60mins (inc. adverts)
Original network Sky1
Original release 10 October (2010-10-10) – 14 November 2010 (2010-11-14)

Thorne is a television drama series which debuted on Sky1 in the UK on 10 October 2010. It is based on crime writer Mark Billingham's novels.[1] The series stars David Morrissey in the title role of Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, and includes Aidan Gillen, Eddie Marsan, and Natascha McElhone as supporting cast members.


As well as the lead role of the series, Morrissey is executive producer. He describes how he became involved as follows:

I was doing a film in New Zealand, on my own, in winter. I really needed a book. I stumbled across a Thorne novel, liked it, and then I looked up Mark online and found a question-and-answer session where he said that if his books ever made it to the screen, he’d like David Morrissey to play the lead. I thought, "That’s a good start".[2]

The series of six episodes comprised two, three-part, dramatizations of the first two Thorne novels. In the first three-parter, Sleepyhead, Thorne has to track down and stop a serial killer who aims to leave his victims alive but unable to communicate because of locked-in syndrome. The second is Scaredy Cat, which features two serial killers, Martin Palmer and Stuart Nicklin, apparently working in tandem.

The makers of the series stated in 2010 a desire to eventually film all ten Thorne novels.[2] In February 2011, David Morrissey stated that he was set to star in and produce another series of Thorne.[3] However, in his Christmas 2012 newsletter, Thorne author Mark Billingham stated that Morrissey's success in The Walking Dead has suspended plans for further Thorne novels to be serialized.[4] As of 2015, no other comments have been made about a possible second series.


As with other TV/film adaptations, there are many differences between the books and the television series. In the books, Brigstocke is a man (Russell Brigstocke); Dave Holland is not black; and Phil Hendricks is a tall, bald, heavily pierced, heavily tattooed Mancunian, not a short, partly tattooed Irishman with a full head of hair.


The first three episodes were known as Thorne: Sleepyhead and the latter three episodes were under the banner Thorne: Scaredy Cat.


Main cast[edit]


Scaredy Cat[edit]


No. Title Director Writer Original air date
1"Sleepyhead, Episode 1"Stephen HopkinsDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble10 October 2010 (2010-10-10)
Three women are found murdered, their killer having induced them into having strokes. A fourth victim is still alive, and might be able to identify her assailant, except that she cannot communicate as she has been left with locked-in syndrome. Investigating, DI Tom Thorne concludes that it was the killer's intention to leave his victims incapacitated, not dead.
2"Sleepyhead, Episode 2"Stephen HopkinsDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble17 October 2010 (2010-10-17)
Thorne is forced to conduct his investigation alone when Tughan dismisses his "locked-in" theory. He and Anne Coburn try to help Alison Willetts communicate. A woman who claims to have escaped the killer is attacked.
3"Sleepyhead, Episode 3"Stephen HopkinsDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble24 October 2010 (2010-10-24)

Thorne confronts pathologist Phil Hendricks and accuses him or murdering three girls 15 years ago because in the assault at the hospital (last epsiode) there is a message on the bathroom mirror written in blood, a message that only Thorne and Hendricks would know, everyone else who would know being dead. However, Thorne changes his mind after the pair fight at the site of the murder, now an empty lot. Thorne attempts to convince Tughan that Hendricks is not the killer but Tughan has evidence that Hendricks is guilty and seems determined to expose the dark secret that binds Hendricks to Thorne.

In flashback, at the house where the three girls were murdered, Thorne is revealed to have killed the girl's father, believing the father to have just killed his daughters. The man, who had been incestuously raping his daughters over a period of years, blamed Thorne for not arriving earlier and stopping the murders, placed a pistol in Thorne's hand and then guided the barrel into his mouth at which Thorne pulled the trigger. Hendricks arrived and told Thorne to phone for back up and say they hadn't entered yet, with the official record reporting the man to have committed murder-suicide. Unknown to Thorne, the father was about to murder his 12 year old son, whom he had also regularly raped before starting on the sisters, by gun shot to the head when Thorne arrived.

Anne's daughter Rachel, though 15 years old, had been sneaking around and staying out all night, including going to hotels with her boyfriend. While Rachel is reading to the locked-in patient the patient recognises a charm bracelet Rachel is wearing, a gift from Rachle's boyfriend, as actually her own. Rachel's before-now never revealed boyfriend walks into the room as he is an orderly. The locked-in patient starts panicking as recognises him as her assailant. He sedates Rachel and abducts her. At the police station Hendricks, under arrest, asks Tughan why a dead man's photo is on the list of witnesses interviewed in the locked-in case. The photo is that of the orderly, Rachel's boyfriend, the son of the man Thorne killed, and he is using a new identity which is why he was not recognised. Security footage shows Rachel being abducted but not leaving the hospital and Thorne finds her and the son/orderly in the disused hospital basement. During questioning the son reveals he was attempting to save women from being assaulted the way his sister's were abused by their father. Tughan, Thorne's former partner, questions him and discovers that the father was still alive when Thorne arrived and attempts to get more evidence to implicate Throne as a murderer but the son only says that Thorne saved him. The son commits suicide by biting off his tongue.
4"Scaredy Cat, Episode 1"Benjamin RossDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble31 October 2010 (2010-10-31)
Two women have been murdered simultaneously near St Pancras station, but in quite different ways. When the connection is made with two other murders, months before but on the same day, DI Thorne realises that two serial killers are at work in a macabre partnership.
5"Scaredy Cat, Episode 2"Benjamin RossDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble7 November 2010 (2010-11-07)
One of the killers is caught after a failed attempt on the life of the son of another victim. He confesses to his crimes, but refuses to identify his partner. Thorne decides to free him in an attempt to force the other killer to come forward.
6"Scaredy Cat, Episode 3"Benjamin RossDudi Appleton, Jim Keeble14 November 2010 (2010-11-14)
Palmer escapes from police custody and he and Nicklin resume their series of murders. DS Chen, desperate to prove herself, risks everything to catch the pair.

British Film Institute preview[edit]

The first three episodes of the series, comprising a dramatization of Billingham's first Thorne novel Sleepyhead, directed by Stephen Hopkins, were previewed at the BFI Southbank in London on 4 October 2010. This was followed by a Q&A session featuring writer Mark Billingham and actors David Morrissey and Eddie Marsan.[5]


Running on a Sunday evening in the prime 2100 slot on satellite against strong terrestrial competition from the popular Julian Fellowes' period drama series Downton Abbey, the first episode of four-part drama Single Father starring David Tennant, and a reshowing of the Dan Brown thriller The Da Vinci Code, the show drew 402,000 viewers and 1.5% audience share, according to preliminary BARB figures.[6]

Reviews have been positive, and currently holds a score of 74/100, on aggregate review site Metacritic. In a television review in The Independent on Monday 11 October 2010, after the first episode was broadcast, Tom Sutcliffe wrote approvingly, particularly of the direction of Stephen Hopkins, "who keeps using his camera to catch Thorne from incriminating angles, as if he's a perpetrator not a policeman", and the performances of Morrissey and McElhone.[7] In The Scotsman, Andrea Mullaney praised the efforts made by BSkyB in the production and casting but added "But it's a shame that our best actors can't be used for anything more radical or real."[8] Adam Sweeting at the independent online arts magazine The Arts Desk wrote "Despite the hype it's just another cop show full of corpses, but Morrissey feels authentic as the phlegmatic, low-key Thorne", but criticised the romantic link between Morrissey and McElhone: "It was like Vinnie Jones getting off with Joanna Lumley".[9]

U.S. airing[edit]

On 10 May 2012, Encore issued a press release announcing that the network would air Thorne: Sleepyhead and Thorne: Scaredy Cat on 12 June 2012 and 13 June 2012, respectively.[10]


Both Sleepyhead and Scaredycat were released together on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 10 January 2011. The series is available on Netflix in the United States. Reviews state that the quality of the show on DVD and Blu-ray were 'great'.[citation needed]


  1. ^ The Guardian, 9 October 2010, The weekend's TV highlights
  2. ^ a b Ed Cumming, 8 October 2010, The Daily Telegraph, David Morrissey on Thorne: a British copper, in a US style
  3. ^ BBC, 4 February 2011, South Riding – David Morrissey is Robert Carne
  4. ^ "Mark Billingham's Newsletter". December 2012. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  5. ^ BFI, 4 October 2010, TV preview: thorne: sleepyhead + Q&A
  6. ^ The Guardian, 11 October 2010, TV ratings
  7. ^ Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 11 October 2010, The Weekend's TV
  8. ^ Andrea Murray, The Scotsman, 12 October 2010, TV review: Thorne: Sleepyhead
  9. ^ Sweeting, Adam (October 11, 2010). "Single Father, BBC One / Thorne: Sleepyhead, Sky1". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 14 February 2017. 
  10. ^ "Encore Press Release" (PDF). Encore. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 

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